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The artist-curator as active citizen: curatorial research, institutions and community space

Thackham, Emma (2017) The artist-curator as active citizen: curatorial research, institutions and community space. Masters thesis (MPhil), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The institutions that we attend, that are provided for us within our communities, or that we self-build and are community-led, create frameworks that we use to establish cultural meanings. Where such cultural infrastructure is missing from a community the artist-curatorial researcher can employ new institutional strategies of public dialogue and civic action in exploration of the nature and possibilities for implementing new frameworks that hold significance for the communities that utilise them. The inquiry has explored the wider discourses of new institutionalism to develop understandings of how such methodologies can operate outside of established arts world frameworks to develop contemporary art exhibitions and counter-public space within a semi-rural community. Thus reaching new audiences through a critical curatorial practice, more often located in a city based sphere of contemporary arts. An important feature of this work is its concern to explore how such a critical agenda – that attempts to challenge how various identified boundaries between artists, audiences and institutions can come about at a local level. This discussion then, centres primarily on projects and initiatives, developed in the Northwich area of Cheshire West and Chester. It involves specific dialogue with council officials, artists and communities of that locality. As such, this is to be seen as a case study with specific characteristics, which may not be universal, but nonetheless constitute substantial insights for further research of this kind.

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